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Thread: Recommend headlamp for reading?

  1. #1

    Default Recommend headlamp for reading?

    I've been using one of the little gooseneck clip on book lights, but depending on the size of the book getting it to stay in place, and provide even lighting, is a challenge. I'm thinking that a headlamp would be a better option.

    Reading in bed would be the primary purpose, although it's likely that I will find more uses.

    I initially thought that a relatively floody beam would be best, but if too floody it may spill too much and end up disturbing my wife. I think that the lighting should be even and am guessing that I will end up using a fairly low setting, possibly moonlight -- in addition to print books, I read a Kindle and if the light is too bright it creates a bad reflection. Diffused light would probably work best but if there is no diffuser I think that scotch tape will likely work as I have it on my current light.

    I would really appreciate some recommendations of specific models to consider from those who have already sorted this out.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm3 View Post
    Reading in bed would be the primary purpose, although it's likely that I will find more uses.

    I initially thought that a relatively floody beam would be best, but if too floody it may spill too much and end up disturbing my wife. I think that the lighting should be even and am guessing that I will end up using a fairly low setting, possibly moonlight -- in addition to print books, I read a Kindle and if the light is too bright it creates a bad reflection. Diffused light would probably work best but if there is no diffuser I think that scotch tape will likely work as I have it on my current light.
    I'd recommend an AA Zebralight. If you want an even light, then an H502w. If you want more focussed and use the tape or a diffusing film to even out the hotspot, I'd go with the H53c/d. I'm not convinced yet that getting the 'H53F' series (frosted lens) is as versitile as the clear lens with a diffuser, but i plan to try a 'F' series and compare since being minimalistic isn't my nature...

    Manker makes a AAA headlamp that i've ordered to give a try.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by MX421 View Post
    I'd recommend an AA Zebralight. If you want an even light, then an H502w. If you want more focussed and use the tape or a diffusing film to even out the hotspot, I'd go with the H53c/d. I'm not convinced yet that getting the 'H53F' series (frosted lens) is as versitile as the clear lens with a diffuser, but i plan to try a 'F' series and compare since being minimalistic isn't my nature...

    Manker makes a AAA headlamp that i've ordered to give a try.
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    I don't want there to be, say, a 3 inch hotspot right in the center of the book page, but on the other hand a flood going out close to 180 degrees would not seem optimal either.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Another vote for AA Zebralight flood model. Some have different degrees of flood.

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm3 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    I don't want there to be, say, a 3 inch hotspot right in the center of the book page, but on the other hand a flood going out close to 180 degrees would not seem optimal either.
    180 would actually be cool! Not for your application i don't think, but...

    You could always shield the wide beam to block parts that would shine on your wife, again with tape, just not clear tap...Even an LED light with a hotspot will have about the same spill that would be what you are worried about, so you need to take that into account. I really like the wide even beam, but i understand that my preference.

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    My daughter has been going through a lot of different lights over the years, always stepping closer to what works well. She’s tried and tested her way through a lot of mine as well, and landed on a Zebralight H53Fc.
    Beam is pretty good for reading, a non-floody could be a bit too narrow, and a 180 degree mule could be too wide. The F from ZL seems to be just right, and the c is probably more suitable to general evening use.
    Interestingly enough, she’ll often use it without actually being on her head. Still prefers the angle of the headlamps over the SC-series though.

    Zebralights are great at low levels, if you prefer higher levels, they’re still great, but it could be worthwhile to consider an 18650 one.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    terjee, has your daughter been able to compare the Zebralight frosted to the non frosted?

    I saw the Thrunight TH10 and TH20 recommended in another thread for close up work (not specifically reading, though). Anyone know how they would compare to the Zebralight?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm3 View Post
    terjee, has your daughter been able to compare the Zebralight frosted to the non frosted?
    All our Zebralight headlamps are frosted, but she did compare it to the SC5c, which is the same LED as H53Fc and H53c, only in an unfrosted flashlight. She had a clear preference for the frosted one. As would I btw, if I read by flashlight in bed.

    edit to add: obviously there’s a degree of personal preference here though.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    The problem I have with any headlamp and reading is the angle of reflection being so close in line with my eyes that I get glare off the page, even off some inks.
    I haven't tried it but a floody light at neck or sternum rather than forehead might go a long way to minimizing the glare.
    I have held a ZL 52Fw above the top of a book with good results, but short of adapting a clamp on gooseneck to it and making it a book light, it seems like the sternum or neck positioning would help.
    Last edited by eh4; 11-15-2017 at 09:26 PM.
    The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by eh4 View Post
    The problem I have with any headlamp and reading is the angle of reflection being so close in line with my eyes that I get glare off the page, even off some inks.
    I haven't tried it but a floody light at neck or sternum rather than forehead might go a long way to minimizing the glare.
    Lower light (dark adapted eyes) help, as does a physically larger light source. The frosting helps making the light source a bit bigger, but it’s no sure full cure.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by terjee View Post
    Lower light (dark adapted eyes) help, as does a physically larger light source. The frosting helps making the light source a bit bigger, but it’s no sure full cure.
    Yes it seems as though being able to adjust the light intensity very low is a key.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by eh4 View Post
    The problem I have with any headlamp and reading is the angle of reflection being so close in line with my eyes that I get glare off the page, even off some inks.
    I haven't tried it but a floody light at neck or sternum rather than forehead might go a long way to minimizing the glare.
    I have held a ZL 52Fw above the top of a book with good results, but short of adapting a clamp on gooseneck to it and making it a book light, it seems like the sternum or neck positioning would help.
    I have mine connected to a rope/lanyard and around my neck and its perfect for reading for me. I use the H502w/c or H602w though for reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by terjee View Post
    Beam is pretty good for reading, a non-floody could be a bit too narrow, and a 180 degree mule could be too wide. The F from ZL seems to be just right, and the c is probably more suitable to general evening use.
    Interestingly enough, she’ll often use it without actually being on her head. Still prefers the angle of the headlamps over the SC-series though.

    Zebralights are great at low levels, if you prefer higher levels, they’re still great, but it could be worthwhile to consider an 18650 one.
    For the record, the angle on the H502/H602 and i believe up to the H604 is 120 degrees, not 180. I only wished it had 180 in my response above

    The 18650 at reading levels (around a AA medium level) will last quite awhile on a battery. I think a 18650 has the power of 7 AAs. You wouldn'r gain much more than unwanted glare from using the 18650 brighter levels for reading....
    Last edited by MX421; 11-16-2017 at 01:14 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by MX421 View Post
    I have mine connected to a rope/lanyard and around my neck and its perfect for reading for me. I use the H502w/c or H602w though for reading...
    Aha, just as I suspected. Thanks.
    I'll try this with the H600Fw, the pure flood is likely even more optimal, but the floody does most things so well, I particularly want to see if it's sufficient for this as well.
    Last edited by eh4; 11-17-2017 at 12:45 AM.
    The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Try stretching a latex finger cot or cut off the finger of a glove, it gives you a ton of flood.

    I usually lay a blanket over the chair and clip my headlamp to the blanket just over my shoulder.

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm3 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    I don't want there to be, say, a 3 inch hotspot right in the center of the book page, but on the other hand a flood going out close to 180 degrees would not seem optimal either.
    I have tried all different kinds of headlamps for reading in bed including standard reflector based(spot/flood), frosted glass and other diffuser models, and full flood/mule models. In my opinion, the full flood/mule headlamps like the Zebralight H502/H60x series are the best for reading. Although they offer a fairly wide flood, they have by far the most even beam and work perfectly for lighting the pages evenly and without glare. I recommend the H502c L2. This is what I now use. It is extremely small, light, offers many different low and moonlight mode options, and is a nice temperature for at night at 4000K.
    Last edited by Tachead; 11-18-2017 at 09:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    The Manker E02H (the AAA model) has spot and spill. I sometimes use it with my kindle and it does ok.
    The Manker E03H (the AA model) is similar but comes with a diffusor that makes a more floody light out of it.
    I quite like those two and they are a bit less expensive than the Zebras.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    I'll cast my vote for the Olight Nova H1 in neutral white.

    Both the wife and I are avid readers, and we both love this headlamp for reading without disturbing the other while sleeping.

    I find a hotspot on my page very disturbing, and this light throws a very even light across the page. Using moonlight mode there is enough light to not strain the eyes, but not enough to bother my wife. Dealing with glare is easy, just tilt the kindle a tad toward flat and it goes away.

    Using CR123 batteries it is very light, and using primarily moonlight mode runtime is a non-issue.
    Last edited by Skaaphaas; 11-18-2017 at 11:17 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tachead View Post
    I have tried all different kinds of headlamps for reading in bed including standard reflector based(spot/flood), frosted glass and other diffuser models, and full flood/mule models. In my opinion, the full flood/mule headlamps like the Zebralight H502/H60x series are the best for reading. Although they offer a fairly wide flood, they have by far the most even beam and work perfectly for lighting the pages evenly and without glare. I recommend the H502c L2. This is what I now use. It is extremely small, light, offers many different low and moonlight mode options, and is a nice temperature for at night at 4000K.
    Quote Originally Posted by B0rt View Post
    The Manker E02H (the AAA model) has spot and spill. I sometimes use it with my kindle and it does ok.
    The Manker E03H (the AA model) is similar but comes with a diffusor that makes a more floody light out of it.
    I quite like those two and they are a bit less expensive than the Zebras.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skaaphaas View Post
    I'll cast my vote for the Olight Nova H1 in neutral white.

    Both the wife and I are avid readers, and we both love this headlamp for reading without disturbing the other while sleeping.

    I find a hotspot on my page very disturbing, and this light throws a very even light across the page. Using moonlight mode there is enough light to not strain the eyes, but not enough to bother my wife. Dealing with glare is easy, just tilt the kindle a tad toward flat and it goes away.

    Using CR123 batteries it is very light, and using primarily moonlight mode runtime is a non-issue.
    Thanks for all the replies and the specific suggestions. I like having some choices to consider other than the Zebralight as they are pricey, but I'm wiling to spend that much if that is what it takes. I think I will likely find some other uses for a good headlamp anyway so that justifies the cost.

    I'm going to research and compare the different options presented. If generous return options are available, I may narrow it down to 2 and order both to compare 1st hand.

    Tachead, were the Olight or the Manker AA among the models that you tried and you prefer the Zebralight?

    I also have a question re the Zebralight. I believe that I read that the moonlight mode can be programmed. Does this mean that you can set moonlight to, say, a little brighter than the factory preset and then quickly access it every time you turn the light on?

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm3 View Post
    Thanks for all the replies and the specific suggestions. I like having some choices to consider other than the Zebralight as they are pricey, but I'm wiling to spend that much if that is what it takes. I think I will likely find some other uses for a good headlamp anyway so that justifies the cost.

    I'm going to research and compare the different options presented. If generous return options are available, I may narrow it down to 2 and order both to compare 1st hand.

    Tachead, were the Olight or the Manker AA among the models that you tried and you prefer the Zebralight?

    I also have a question re the Zebralight. I believe that I read that the moonlight mode can be programmed. Does this mean that you can set moonlight to, say, a little brighter than the factory preset and then quickly access it every time you turn the light on?
    Zebralight lights are expensive for a reason. They have more advanced and efficient drivers, better quality aluminum, much tougher anodizing, and are lighter and smaller then most, if not all, comparable lights on the market. Their electronics are also fully potted for durability and their bodies are made from a single piece of Alcoa aircraft aluminum for added strength and better heat transfer and dissipation.

    Zebralight offers a 30 day money back guarantee. So, if you don't like it for any reason, you can send it back for a refund and will only be out a little bit of postage.

    I haven't tried the particular Olight headlamp referenced but, own another model headlamp that uses the same type of honeycomb optic. It produces a nice beam that is fairly smooth and I rate it's beam as the second best option after the mule(bare emitter) style. The Zebralight frosted lens comes in at a close third. But, you should keep in mind that Olight is a step down in quality compared to Zebralight and is not offered in as warm of a CCT. Their neutral white models are generally 5000K nominal which is much harder on the eyes late at night and will cause more glare/reflection. They are also much lower in CRI then certain ZL options like the "c&d" models and don't offer a moonlight mode.

    As for the Manker, it is a standard reflector based headlamp which produces the worst type of beam profile for reading imo. It will have a defined hotspot which most don't like for up close tasks like reading. Manker is also a "budget" light brand and while descent quality are nowhere near the quality of a Zebralight or Olight.

    Yes, Zebralight offers three different true sublumen moonlight modes to choose from. You can set which you like most and then the light will come on in that mode. You can then double click at any time to step up to the normal low mode(2 lumens on the H502c).

    So, when it comes to Zebralight, the two models I recommend are the H502c L2 and H53Fc for reading. They both are a nice warm 4000K and are very small and light.

    The H502c has the best beam for reading imo because it is pretty much perfectly even across the whole beam. But, it has a wider spill which has more chance of hitting your wife. I don't think this will be a problem though as you can run it at a very low output. It doesn't bother my spouse at all. It's spill also abruptly ends and you can adjust its position so your wife is not in it's spill.

    The H53Fc is a newer model with slightly higher CRI and efficiency but, is a bit larger. It still offers a nice beam for reading but, is not quite as even and requires that you point it at the page you are reading more carefully. It also causes a slight bit more glare/reflection due to its tighter beam but, it still works pretty well. It offers a bit tighter spill that transitions smoothly to darkness.

    Sorry, that was a bit long winded. I hope it helps.
    Last edited by Tachead; 11-18-2017 at 02:14 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Zebralights are great but have you thought about something smaller, simpler and cheaper? The Silva Siju, for instance, is good for reading in bed, as is the Petzl e+lite. Both use coin cells which are really cheap on-line. I like them because they're so small and light I forget I'm wearing them.
    Just an idea.

  21. #21

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    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boko View Post
    Zebralights are great but have you thought about something smaller, simpler and cheaper? The Silva Siju, for instance, is good for reading in bed, as is the Petzl e+lite. Both use coin cells which are really cheap on-line. I like them because they're so small and light I forget I'm wearing them.
    Just an idea.
    Just to let you know, the H502c I recommended is very small and comparable to both of those lights if not smaller. Also neither of those lights have a moonlight mode like the OP wants. They are also both a very cool white which not only causes worse glare and reflection compared to warm and neutral CCT lights but, also is bad for you before bed and causes issues with your ability to fall asleep and effects the quality of your sleep. And, they both have pretty severe low frequency PWM as well which is hard on the eyes and gives some people a headache. They are neat little lights and very light with their button cells but, are not a great option for reading in bed imo and are not a very eco friendly option long term either.
    Last edited by Tachead; Yesterday at 04:47 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Just as an FYI, right after I started this thread I sent an email to Zebralight to see what they recommend based on customer feedback. They replied:

    H502d, if used for books/kindles mostly.

    H53Fw, if used for books/kindles mainly, but occasionally some other indoor or outdoor use.

    I asked a follow up question, to which they replied:

    The H502d has no reflector and hence even with a clear lens, its beam is pretty much a pure flood.

    The 'frosted' H53Fw can be used for reading as well as a general purpose light (but the H502d can't.)
    Beam from a 'clear lens' H53w is bit harsh for reading books/kindles.

    So, the 502 is a consistent recommendation, with votes for the W, the C, and the D models -- and so is the H53F with votes for the W, the C, and the D models.

    I'm leaning towards one of the 502 variants.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Recommend headlamp for reading?

    Well, it would certainly be an informed decision!

    I don’t have any experience with ZL, something I hope to change sooner rather than later. Good luck with your purchase, I’m sure it will be perfect for your needs.

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